B.C. quit-smoking plan attracts critics

B.C.'s plan to fund nicotine patches and gum for smokers has been lauded by the Canadian Cancer Society and other health organizations, but the program has its detractors.

Premier Christy Clark and cancer survivor Denton Bailey announce program to fund nicotine therapy starting Sept. 30.

VICTORIA – B.C.’s plan to fund nicotine patches and gum for smokers has been lauded by the Canadian Cancer Society and other health organizations, but the program has its detractors.

Public feedback since the program was announced in May include a variety of criticisms, according to documents released by Premier Christy Clark’s office under freedom of information legislation.

The program is set to start Sept. 30. It will provide people up to 12 weeks’ supply of over-the-counter nicotine gum or patches, or prescription pills approved by the Pharmacare program. The government estimates it will cost $15-25 million a year, depending on how many smokers sign up.

“As a physician, I am a bit ambivalent about your decision to fund nicotine replacement, as along with the drug there is also need for counselling and follow-up,” said one response posted on B.C.’s new open information website.

Others objected to the decision to spend millions on nicotine replacement, while diabetics and other chronic disease patients have to pay to treat conditions they did not bring upon themselves. A Kelowna resident cited the example of treatment for his wife’s sleep apnea, including $100 a month in medicine and $2,000 for a machine recommended by her family doctor and cardiologist.

“I honestly believe it is outright wrong to pay for this when smokers made a choice to start smoking and continue to make a choice every time they light up,” he said.

A former smoker who quit before nicotine replacement was available also objected.

“I realize [nicotine replacement] is expensive, but so are cigarettes,” the ex-smoker wrote. “If a person is desirous of quitting, then don’t buy cigarettes, buy the patch instead.”

Others urged the B.C. government to extend the program to cover stop-smoking treatments that use lasers, acupuncture and other treatments. Several hypnotherapists sent a form letter urging the government to extend coverage to their form of smoking treatment.

The health ministry estimates that more than 6,000 B.C. residents die from tobacco use each year. Tobacco-related illnesses cost an estimated $2.3 billion a year, $605 million of which is direct health-care costs.

Just Posted

Port Alberni poet shortlisted for B.C. award

Port Alberni’s Derek Hanebury is a former instructor at North Island College

Indigenous youth connect with their culture at Gathering Our Voices workshops

Secluded Wellness Centre in Port Alberni hosted traditional wildcraft sessions

Illegal cannabis club in Port Alberni ticketed again

RCMP seize cannabis, issue fine for second time in five months

Motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash west of Whiskey Creek

Witnesses say three vehicles involved in collision; man in 70s confirmed dead

Chef returns to North Island College to inspire young cooks

Tina Tang shares her culinary journey since graduating

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Most Read